The front door latch is open, the window can be slid, the engine is off. And yet, Louise (Marina Foïs) cannot get out of her car. After a few failed attempts, this fifty-year-old nurse decided not to force things, remaining glued to the front seat. Very quickly, he does not have enough fuel left to find peace on the surrounding roads.

How can you refuel when you’re in a state close to a hikikomori – those teenagers who no longer leave the house? A chance encounter brings Paul (Benjamin Voisin), a young thug with a pistol, into his path. His goal: to take revenge on a man in Cap-Ferret (Gironde), in the South-West. Unable to get Louise out, the boy is forced to kidnap her and travel with her. Which forces her to find solutions so that she can eat, wash, change and go to the toilet without setting foot outside.

Conceptual curiosity

We enter Didier Barcelo’s film with the fear of being subjected to a series of humorous sketches played out at a Stakhanovesque rhythm: how can you spend several days in a car without ever getting out? We think of the funny pitch of On a Perched Tree (1971), by Serge Korber, which trapped Louis de Funès and two hitchhikers in a convertible car perched on an umbrella pine after an accident.

But, after the first gags, we find ourselves faced with a conceptual curiosity in the genre of Rubber (2010), by Quentin Dupieux, which followed the trail of a killer tire. With the difference that Free Wheel never ventures completely into nonsense. The initial questions are quickly evacuated in favor of a more powerful motive: how can this car make them happy? Without going so far as to gain a life of its own, like in a David Cronenberg film, the Volvo participates with a certain tenderness in strengthening the bond between Louise and Paul.

Over the miles, this moving camera will construct, in a metaphorical form, the sensitive portrait of a woman who no longer knows where she is and has no other way than to let herself be guided. Zigzagging between comedy and psychological drama, the journey to the Arcachon basin gradually transforms into a traveling therapy which illustrates Louise’s distress as well as that of Paul, on a winding road capable of making the most stoic dizzy. of us.

This road movie does not escape the glamorama of the genre. It is in these landscapes larger than France that he manages to build a friendship between Louise and Paul, whose meeting escapes a programmatic approach of what the mutual discovery of two people who have nothing in common can be. . Freewheeling relies on the time of the schoolchildren’s path and lets itself be taken along the diagonal of the void.